I had my first real apartment, shared with a room mate chosen not so much as he was a great friend but by mutual circumstance, we both needed a place and each had half the money to get in the door. Wasn't a great place, a 20 or so unit two story concrete building circa early 1960's. We had a two bedroom corner unit downstairs with a view of four lane Powerline Road, just south of Oakland Park Boulevard.
The manager lived right up stairs, a heavy drinker whom I suspect was on some sort of disability and had the management job for the free rent and minimal upkeep. More than once he hit me up for a buck for the Seven-11 store across the road, where he could get a tall boy or sometimes a quart of cheap beer at 10 in the morning.
I worked as a helper in a shop that did mobile marine diesel repair and was learning the ropes of the trade. I think I made about 7.50 or 8 bucks an hour, twice minimum wage of the day but still not all that great. It kept me in baloney and Ramen noodles, and the 7-11 had .99 microwave burritos that weren't half bad. .
My hobby and main transportation was a '71 VW beetle done up "Baja" style. Each weekend found me trying some new carburetor combination (swap meet finds of course) or new used tires from the used tire shop.
But this tale is not about the car or the pad, though they played a part in it. It's about a girl.....
Names have been changed, and let's face it, some details have gone fuzzy after 27 years!
I had a group of friends. Many still lived "at home" or such. We would at times gather at the workplace of my friend "Robert" He worked his dad's business, where they installed business telephone systems. Robert's job was managing the small warehouse, where the components were stocked for installations. Having a key to the place, many of us would gather there at nights, as most were under age, and being too broke to get in to the nightclubs anyway. Robert played drums and another couple played guitar. I don't ever recall a complete song played and it mostly sounded like the band in the movie "Slingblade"....
Where was I...ah! Robert was moving on, going to school for HVAC (he has a successful small business in the field these days) and a replacement had been hired.....
"SHE" was named "Stephanie" 18 years old or so, and like me, a transplant from the north. About 5' 5", slender, with shoulder length brown hair, big brown eyes....an infectious laugh. Big, beautiful smile...and she smelled like sunshine....
Stephanie saw some pictures Robert had gotten developed of the group of us. I guess she saw me in the pics and commented that I was "cute" and being the good bud he was and knowing I was unencumbered at that time, Robert offered to hook her up!
(I am on the top right of the ladder in the cutoff sleeved denim, "Robert" is center in the rising sun tee shirt. This pic about 1986 in the warehouse )
She, like many other young folk lived a few blocks off the beach, and at that time there were many small "pay by the week" studio apartment/motel type places. This was the pre cell phone era, so my contact was to give her my number and she would call from the pay phone outside the lobby.
We met up on the next Saturday, she had me pick her up on the corner down the street from the place she lived. I was naïve and it did not occur to me why she just did not have me pick her up at the door. We had a date at the flea market and before long we were holding hands.
A few phone calls and a couple of similar dates later, I learned she had a "roommate" and that she and the "roommate" did not get along all the time. I took it in stride as I didn't care for my roommate a lot of the time. I eventually got the pay phone number as I could call it without her having to fork out change. One time I called at the pre arranged time, and a male answered, he said he was Stephanie's "brother".
She called half an hour later. I told her I spoke with her "brother" and she got very very quiet.. then started crying and told me he was her older boyfriend that she wanted to get away from. Then she had to abruptly get off the phone.
A few days later, she called me crying and said "come get me!" My room mate, whom I had confided the situation to, insisted on coming with. Which was a good thing!
The place was called the Sandpiper or the Beachcomber or such. We pulled in and went to the ground floor room. "Steph" had started dumping her clothes out in to Hefty bags and I began to help her. "What's going on man?" Said a voice......and there was the recently arrived "roommate". Flanked by my room mate...... This memory is very clear. The guy was about my height (5' 7") but wiry. He was built like a welterweight boxer, and he had what I can only describe as "serial killer" eyes! And from the way his veins were all pumped up and he was twitching, he was definitely on some crank of some sort. (Google it if needed)
I tried in vain to think of what the etiquette in this situation was- "What to do when you are dumping a gal's panties in a trash bag when the guy she is leaving who is jacked up on coke walks in?" sort of thing, but came up blank. Dad taught me a lot about felling trees, mending fences, but not one dammed THING about this pickle I'd mired myself in!
Mr. Serial Killer Eyes recognized there were two of us, but one of him, and said very calmly to the shaking gal.... "Steph, can I see you for a minute?" and took her in the one bedroom off the combination living/dining room/kitchen.
My roomie and I did not know what to do....grab her shit and toss it in the car? Then we heard a sound that still rings in my ear to this day....the distinctive "Shiick!" of a clip being slid in to an automatic pistol!
Did I commit an act of fearless chivalry? Throw myself between the lass and her aggressor in a selfless act of sacrifice?
Fuck no! I recall my roomie silently mouthing "GO!" as we both headed out the propped open door. I don't recall opening the v dub's door, nor do I remember stopping at any stop signs or red lights on the way back to our place, about 15 minutes away.....
Did I read about a grizzly murder down on the beach in the Sun Sentinel the next day? Was a decomposed body found in the Everglades six months later? No.......she was alive and well enough to screw my room mate a few weeks later!